LONDON, May 29 — Alt-J, the Leeds-formed Cambridge-based pop band that was once described “the new Radiohead”, will soon release their third album.
When they debuted with An Awesome Wave in 2012, an album they worked on for five years while students, it went Top 20 in the UK and scooped up the 2012 Mercury prize, selling a million copies worldwide.
Vocalist singer Joe Newman was described by Pitchfork as “halfway between Macy Gray and a goose gibbering over beats... sometimes they sound like Bombay Bicycle Club playing in a submarine. Comprehensible intonation is out of the window,” a Pitchfork critic wrote, of the album that encompassed Tessellate, Breezeblocks and Taro.
The band faced some backlash after the prize, called out in the press for being boring (the “bland band”, as one Guardian headline put it).
In January 2014, guitarist and founding member Gwil Sainsbury quit, having decided that the life of a professional touring musician was not for him. Alt-J regrouped for their sophomore album This Is All Yours, deploying heavier drums and sample-based tech.
The lead single Hunger of the Pine pulled from Miley Cyrus’s 4x4 (Cyrus declared herself a fan of the band; she had used a snippet of their single Fitzpleasure in her live show).
Conor Oberst, known for his work in Bright Eyes, made an appearance on the track Warm Foothills.
Since their two albums, drummer Thom Sonny Green released a debut solo effort, High Anxiety, made over the years of touring and recorded in hotel rooms.
It channeled electronic ideas that wouldn’t work for the main outfit into instrumental tracks, which he named after cities or one-word associations. Keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton opened a café in east London; singer Joe Newman featured on a Clams Casino track with Lil B.
The trio’s upcoming eight-track LP, Relaxer, is Alt-J’s third album, due out June 2.
The group has unveiled the first two singles: 3WW (“a synth rocker to a ballad to a tender duet with guest vocalist Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice,” Rolling Stone noted) and In Cold Blood (“Alt-J pair reggae rhythms with heady brass and spiraling synths” Rolling Stone continued), which includes narration by Iggy Pop in the video.
The band’s UK/European tour starts May 27 and their 19 US tour dates kick off July 27 in Baltimore, MD, wrapping up in November in Houston, TX.
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